David Ward at Big Bricks, one of his favorite Northcenter hangouts. Credit: Stephanie Sack
David Ward is a Northcenter resident and business owner by way of England and Sweden. Currently Ward has merged his engineering background and entrepreneurial spirit into a thriving home inspection company, Sweet Home Chicago Inspector. Armed with years of experience in urban planning, public transportation and home renovation, Ward and his awesome infrared camera can pinpoint areas of buildings in need of repair beyond the scope of the naked eye, providing crucial information for anyone thinking about purchasing a house. An avid culture consumer in his free time, Ward is a passionate collector of music and an enthusiastic cook, as well as an active member of the Northcenter Chamber of Commerce.
Where are you from originally and how did you come to reside in Northcenter?
I grew up in Evanston and have always liked the Chicago North Side. I have lived in a few other places in the U.S., and also in London and Stockholm. Living abroad, I became accustomed to being able to get around easily without using a car. When my wife and I returned to the U.S., we were attracted to Northcenter for several reasons: We found a great older home and were also drawn to the high number of local amenities and excellent transportation options here. The Northcenter area is great on its own, but is also very appealing to me as it’s within walking distance of Roscoe Village, Lakeview and Lincoln Square, which is fantastic. I really enjoy having so many choices for going out. Also being so close to the Brown Line makes it quick and easy to get downtown.
You own a home inspection company. What inspired you to start your own business, and what do you like best about being an entrepreneur?
I got tired of the corporate life and started my own business in order to do something that I really enjoy. Home inspection was a natural fit for me given my technical background and my experience in home remodeling. I enjoy meeting new people and providing home buyers with information and advice to help them feel confident when making one of the biggest purchasing decisions of their lives.
You use an infrared camera. That’s pretty cool! How does the camera work and what does it help you do?
It is definitely cool! The camera “sees” beyond the visible light spectrum and displays changes in temperature. This makes it possible to visualize heating and cooling loss in buildings, overheated electrical circuits, damp surfaces and water leaks. It is a valuable tool for me and my customers and something that many other inspectors do not offer. I am also a certified home energy auditor so having an infrared camera is essential.
When you are not casting infrared light in people’s homes, where do you like to hang out in the neighborhood and what do you enjoy doing most?
I love being able to walk to and hang out in so many great neighborhood restaurants, bars and cafes. Some of my favorites include the Fountainhead, The Bad Apple, Jury’s, Mrs. Murphy’s, Resi’s, Laschet’s and Meinl’s. Really there are too many to list! Most recently, I’ve been hanging out at Big Bricks, which is only a half-block from my house.
I have a dog and like to take early morning walks in the area. I like to visit the many different shops in Northcenter. We have some excellent antique stores on Lincoln Avenue. I also like filling up a growler or two at Half Acre Brewery to have on hand when cooking or barbequing, or to quench my thirst after cutting the grass or gardening in the summer time. When relaxing, I enjoy listening to music on vinyl. I miss hanging out at Dead Wax, which was based at Lincoln and Berenice until about a year ago. Luckily, I recently learned that the owner has reopened his record business in Roscoe Village.
As someone who is very seasoned in engineering and home improvement, what advice would you give people thinking about buying a house in the Northcenter area?
This area is great for many different buyers. Whether you are looking for a single family home or a condo, Northcenter has so much to offer.
Buying a home should be fun, but it can also be stressful and very emotional. Find a real estate agent that you get along with and that is knowledgeable about the area. Look at many different properties in order to compare and contrast. Once you find the home that’s right for you, be careful not to overlook potential problems and defects. Hiring a licensed and certified home inspector is an easy and affordable way to obtain an objective opinion. An experienced inspector will be able to provide you with a detailed analysis of the home’s major components (HVAC, electrical, plumbing, structural, appliances, etc.). My customers seem to really appreciate that my reports are extremely detailed, but also include a summary section at the beginning, which highlights the key issues that are crucial to making the deal. A well-informed buyer is a savvy buyer.